Court Removes Obstacle To Releasing Wolves In NM, Navajo Nation Hiring New Officials

Apr 25, 2017

Court Removes Obstacle To Releasing Wolves In New MexicoThe Associated Press

A court has removed one obstacle to the federal government's plan to release more endangered wolves in New Mexico over the state's objections, but it wasn't immediately clear whether or when additional releases would occur.

A Denver-based federal appeals court on Tuesday lifted a preliminary injunction that prevented the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from releasing more Mexican gray wolves after New Mexico refused to agree to the plan.

State and federal officials had no immediate comment Tuesday.

New Mexico could ask the appeals court to reconsider or ask the Supreme Court to hear the case.

Even with the injunction lifted, it wasn't immediately known whether wolf releases would continue under President Donald Trump, who has slowed or reversed other environmental initiatives.

Navajo Nation Hiring Officials After Clearing Housing BoardThe Associated Press & The Gallup Independent

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye is looking for new housing authority board members after the council voted to relieve its previous officials.

The Gallup Independent reported Monday that Begaye has received more than 30 applications and three unnamed candidates have already been selected.

The council voted 16-4 on Thursday in favor of removing the current commissioners, although the emergency legislation had not yet been completed as of Sunday. Begaye says a congressional delegation believes the tribe's housing dollars were at risk because the housing authority failed to fulfill its mission.

UNM President Won't Bar Extreme Speakers From Campus Events

The University of New Mexico’s interim President Chaouki Abdallah told students he would not ban extreme speakers from UNM events.

The Albuquerque Journal reports students organized a meeting with him and a demonstration outside his office on Monday.

The conservative extremist Milo Yiannopoulos visited UNM in late January, drawing hundreds of protesters. KUNM reported last week that security for that event cost sixteen thousand dollars.

The student government gave $5,000 each to two student groups—the College Republicans and the Young Americans for Freedom—to bring two more far-right speakers to campus this year. Those events have not yet been scheduled.

Judge Refuses To Drop Ex-New Mexico Deputy's Murder CaseThe Associated Press

A judge has denied a request from a former New Mexico deputy accused of killing his partner in 2014 to have his murder case dismissed.

The judge also rejected another motion filed by Tai Chan's attorney last week that sought to disqualify Dona Ana County District Attorney Mark D'Antonio from prosecuting the case.

Chan is charged with murder in the shooting death of Deputy Jeremy Martin after what authorities have said was an alcohol-fueled argument in Las Cruces.

Chan is set to face a retrial in May. The first trial was declared a mistrial.

Chan's attorneys have called for the case's dismissal over allegations of "outrageous government conduct" and a botched police investigation.

Defense Attorney John Day said Monday his team respects the judge's decision and is preparing for trial.

New Mexico Supreme Court Agrees To Hear State Budget DisputeAssociated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a lawsuit that accuses the governor of overstepping her authority by vetoing funding to the Legislature along with state universities and colleges.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez was ordered to respond to a petition from the Democratic-led Legislature that says her line-item vetoes would "effectively abolish" state institutions of higher education and upset the balance of power between branches of government.

Oral arguments were scheduled May 15 in the extraordinary legal challenge that springs from an escalating feud over how to resolve the state's financial crisis.

Lawmakers sent Martinez a $6.1 billion budget package in March that would boost spending slightly and include several tax increases.

Martinez rejected the tax hikes and issued line-item vetoes that defunded the Legislature and cut $745 million in annual general fund spending to state universities, community colleges and specialty schools.

Michael Lonergan, a spokesman for Martinez, said Monday that the state Constitution gives the governor the right to veto that spending.

NMSU Eyes $125 Million Fundraising Campaign Amid UncertaintyAssociated Press

New Mexico State University has launched an ambitious campaign to raise $125 million amid uncertainty with state funding.

The southern New Mexico college is set to hold "an energized event" on Friday to unveil the campaign's theme and to announce a new gift to the university. Country music star Bri Bagwell is scheduled to perform at the event.

Officials say the campaign, which extends through 2019, aims to create $50 million in new scholarship endowments.

Last month, New Mexico State University Chancellor Garrey Carruthers announced that the university is considering merging colleges and cutting programs amid ongoing state budget cuts.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed the state's entire higher education budget. A special session will now be held for lawmakers to determine funding for colleges and universities.

Santa Fe College, Seattle Film Institute Partner On DegreeAssociated Press

Santa Fe Community College is partnering with the Seattle Film Institute to offer an accelerated degree in film.

Officials say the collaboration announced this month will help meet the demands of the state's growing film industry by allowing students to obtain a bachelor's degree in three years.

Under the new program, students can choose concentrations in filmmaking, acting for film, motion graphics and recording arts.

Santa Fe County projects that more than $100 million will be spent in production in the region this year. Santa Fe Community College has about 180 film majors.

New Mexico Senator Criticized For Stalling Latino AppointeeAssociated Press

Asserting that Hispanics are routinely kept from key positions, the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce wants to know why its outgoing CEO has not been named to the board of New Mexico's largest university.

In a letter sent last week to Sen. Linda Lopez, the business group asked why she failed to hold a confirmation hearing for Alex Romero.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez nominated Romero in February to the University of New Mexico's Board of Regents. But the nomination has been held up by the Senate Rules Committee, which is chaired by Lopez.

It was one of many Martinez appointments that did not get a hearing during the previous legislative session.

Lopez has decried the lack of diversity on state college boards.

Martinez has complained about the delays, but Lopez said the vetting process has been delayed because of funding problems and time constraints involving background checks.

Martinez countered that the same committee had wasted time on proposals such as naming a state holiday song.

Federal Law Prompts Spike In New Mexico Name Change RequestsAssociated Press

Since New Mexico began complying with tougher federal identification requirements, hundreds of state residents have legally changed their names or amended their birth certificates to prove their identities.

New Mexico started issuing new drivers licenses last year that meet federal REAL ID Act requirements, which are aimed at making commercial airlines and federal facilities more secure. The state also offers driving authorization cards to residents who don't have the identity documents needed for a new license, including immigrants in the country illegally.

Residents have been petitioning to get their name changed because the spelling of their name or the name they go by is not consistent on all documents required to obtain a license.

Attorneys General: Restore Guidance To Aid Student BorrowersAssociated Press

Attorneys general from 20 states and the District of Columbia are faulting Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for rolling back Obama-era guidance they say is helping protect student loan borrowers.

In a letter sent Monday, Democratic attorneys general Maura Healey of Massachusetts and Lisa Madigan of Illinois called on DeVos to restore the memos instituted by the federal Education Department last year under President Barack Obama.

The attorneys general said the guidance is designed to help borrowers get accurate information about their loans and repayment options — ensuring the consistency of service provided by student loan servicers and increasing accountability.

The letter was co-signed by attorneys general of New Mexico, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

Judge Sides With New Mexico In Dispute Over Gaming CompactAssociated Press, Santa Fe New Mexican

A federal appeals court has rejected an appeal by the U.S. Department of the Interior and Pojoaque Pueblo in a dispute over a gaming compact with New Mexico.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Sunday that the court blocked the department from taking any action in the dispute, which is between the pueblo and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez's administration.

The two parties disagree about the amount of money the tribe should have to hand over to the state from its gambling operations.

The pueblo has been operating Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino and other operations without a compact with the state since a previous compact expired in June 2015. The tribe hasn't reached a new deal with the state because it disagrees with the revenue-sharing requirement.